My 20-Year Freelance Anniversary Story: Film, Paper, Scissors

My 20-Year Freelance Anniversary Story: Film, Paper, Scissors

It was 1998.

I juggled full-time classes at the University of Iowa and snapped pictures part-time for my hometown daily newspaper, the Quad-City Times, in Davenport, Iowa.

I spent my summer break and weekends developing film, scanning negatives and running around town covering news events with my Canon A2 film SLR.

One quiet afternoon, the phone rang in a far corner of the newsroom. Craig, the photo editor at the time, picked up the receiver, spoke a few words, glanced at me, then stretched the long curly cord my way.

“Angie, I think you might like this one,” he said.

I took the phone and started chatting with a person from a national scrapbooking magazine about a freelance assignment at an elementary school in Illinois. The teacher and her students were doing amazing things with paper, stickers and glue. The magazine wanted pictures.

It was my first freelance assignment, ever.

I remember visiting the classroom, joking with the kids and stretching across their tiny tables with my wide angle lens to get creative angles of their little fingers against the colorful paper. I shot maybe three or four rolls of Fuji Film, then carefully mailed the undeveloped images directly to the magazine.

That was the norm 20 years ago.

I also remember borrowing my sister’s computer to print my first invoice. The fee for my services was $50. I couldn’t believe I could make so much money with my camera and an hour or two of free time.

Little did I know I’d be writing about this experience in 2018 as I celebrate nine years as a full-time small business owner that blossomed from a steady pace of freelance work over the years. You never know when a random phone call or email will lay the groundwork for unexpected opportunities or direction.

Don’t be afraid to try new things, move beyond your routine or say ‘Yes’ to tasks that seem a little outside of your usual offerings. You might just find a new hobby — or career!

Have you written about your first side gig, freelance job or paid project? I’d love to read your story too! Comment below with a link.

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